The following fundamentals will prove to be of great value to the student of the Word of God. Like any system of learning or study, the fundamentals are only as good as the effort of the student using them. Knowing the fundamentals, but not practicing them, is much like reading the Word of God and not acting according to the teachings of the Word. At the end of this chapter there will be a listing of all of the fundamentals dealt with here. The student should make a copy of the rules and keep them before him whenever studying.
1. USE THE RIGHT BIBLE
Many students ask, “Which study Bible is the best?” There are so many to choose from, and more are coming on the market every year. The following suggestions are only the opinion of this writer, but represent the Bibles that have been the most helpful in study.
Many people prefer the King James Version of the Bible, because it is the version that they were raised with. There are still a few hold-outs who will insist that it is not spiritual to even think of using another version. Later in this book, in the chapter on the Tools of Study, some of the weakness in the King James Version are presented: weakness that have been corrected in the New King James Version.
Along with the New King James Version there are several other newer translations or versions available. The New International Version is fast becoming the preferred version of many Christians (especially ministers).
The NIV is recommended for new converts, especially because of its’ clarity of language.
The New American Standard Bible is a personal favorite, as it is a translation that is very close to the original biblical languages. Of course, no version is absolutely perfect in all aspects. This is true for many reasons that are far beyond the scope of this book. For more information on how we obtained our modern Bible, it is recommended that the student obtain Dr. Ken Chant’s book, “The Bible”, and for a more thorough understanding of the interpretation of the Bible, Dr. Chant’s book “Understanding the Bible”, both available from Vision Publishing.
The serious student of the Bible should choose a Bible with a good concordance in the back. In the chapter on Tools of Study a complete concordance will be recommended, but it is nice to have a shorter version in the back of one’s Bible so that scriptures can be found at times when the student is not at the normal place of study.
Another consideration is the size of print and the size of the Bible. It goes without saying that the larger the print the larger the Bible. Many new converts are tricked into buying a large “family sized Bible” by some smooth talking Bible salesman. The problem is that after a short while they realize that the Bible is much to large and heavy to carry and it simply collects dust on an end table.
A personal Bible should be large enough to have print that is easily read and with a concordance, but the Bible should be small enough to be carried comfortably at any time. It is also advisable to have a Bible large enough to carry some notes in, etc. The important thing is to have a usable Bible, or better yet as will be discussed later, several different translations or versions to be used in making comparisons and to enrich study.
Although many Christian prefer a leather covered Bible, the extra editions to be used for study purposes need not be leather bound because of the unnecessary cost of leather binding. In some cases a paper bound issue of some version will serve the student quite well.
2. DEVELOP GOOD STUDY HABITS
The most difficult part of studying anything is getting started. Many people never learned adequate study skills in their early academic experiences, and have developed an aversion to studying. Truly, studying is work! Yet, God’s Word is clear. Christians must study (be diligent) to show themselves approved unto God. (2 Tim 2:15) “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Meditating on God’s Word means to set as a priority, time with the Lord and His Word. The importance of time with God and His Word cannot be overemphasized for the development of spiritual vitality.
Good, God-pleasing study habits will begin with establishing a separate place for study. This should be a place which is reasonably quite (many people like soft worship music playing when they study), free of common distractions, such as kids, phones, neighbors or a needy spouse. It may not be possible to get rid of all distractions, but an effort must be made to limit them as much as is possible. It is advisable to find and make sacred a place of study that can be used solely for that purpose.
The place of study should be reasonably warm or comfortably cool. No place may be perfect, but eliminating distractions is important.
It is also important to have the necessary study aids (concordance, dictionary, etc.) at ready access. Spending precious time chasing down study materials can be frustrating, at best. Satan will do everything in his power to distract the true student of the Word, and he can only be defeated by sheer will power and determination, along with a steady dose of the Word of God.
It is vital to maintain a relaxed and normal internal (inside ones body) environment while studying. Having a cup of coffee or a snack while studying is fine, but it is advisable to make sure that the coffee and/or snack is readily available. It is amazing how distracting a missing cup of coffee can be.
The whole idea is for the student to be as comfortable as possible. Studying should not create discomfort or anxiety. Studying God’s Word can and should be a most enjoyable and thoroughly profitable activity. The more something is enjoyed the more the student is likely to continue this positive and beneficial behavior.
Finally, it is advisable to set a certain specific period of time for studying. It is highly recommended that one study at the same time every day for about the same period of time. The discipline of setting time limits will go a long way in making the student a faithful in studying and in other endeavors for the Lord. However, one should not become overly rigid or obsessed if a schedule cannot be met perfectly. Life is filled with many difficult variables, and flexibility is a sign of maturity, if not used as an excuse to avoid responsibility.
3. PREPARE THE HEART
In the Book of Ezra 7:10 it is recorded, “For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel”.
There are many things that the Christians can “set” their hearts upon, many of which are good and wholesome. When talking about the study of God’s Word, preparation of the heart is vital.
If individuals expect to accomplish anything for the Lord, and become effective in service for Him, they must set their hearts to study God’s Word. To accomplish this, the following recommendation is by far the most helpful:
Quiet the heart. God wants man to “Be still and know that I am God”.(Psa. 46:10) That is, God desire is for man to quiet the heart and mind from needless and futile worry. Taking a few deep breaths and closing the eyes can be most relaxing. Relaxation is not easy for people with obsessive thoughts or overly perfectionistic intentions. However, with practice and God’s help almost anyone can accomplish this important spiritual step.
Until next time,
Please leave your questions and comments. The book is available from Vision Publishing for $12.95 at www.booksbyvision.com